Rainbow flags and mom hugs usher in Ridgefield’s first pride day
With free mom hugs, and rainbow flags rippling beneath Saturday’s clear blue skies, Ridgefield’s first pride parade in Ballard Park welcomed the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay Transgender, Questioning and more) community.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi issued a proclamation affirming the gay, lesbian, and transgender community’s importance to the town. “…The LGBTQ+ community is officially recognized as a vital and essential part of our community,” said Marconi, standing on the gazebo in the park’s north lawn.
“I Rudy Marconi, first selectman of the Town of Ridgefield hereby declare June 15, 2019 as Ridgefield Pride Day, and welcome the Gay-Straight Alliance and all LGBTQ+ to our community we call home,” he added
Marconi’s words were met with cheers and applause from the more than100 people gathered around the park, some waving rainbow flags or sporting t-shirts supporting gay, lesbian, and transgender people — “Make America Gay Again,” read one.
The student organizers of the event led a parade from the steps of the gazebo and looping around the gravel path around the park, carrying a rainbow banner for the combined gay-straight alliances of both middle schools and the town high school.
While the event featured family friendly entertainment — rainbow face-painting for kids, a potato sack race and beanbag toss — organizers reminded those gathered of pride’s roots as a protest.
“Before we kick off all these festivities, I’d like to take a moment to remember why we have this event,” said student organizer Maddie Trotter, of the East Ridge Middle School Gay Straight Alliance.
Trotter invoked the memory of the 1969 Stonewall riots, which galvanized the gay rights movement that would ultimately become the modern pride movement. “It was a riot against police brutality that happened when an inn… was raided by police,” said Trotter. “Just remember as you’re having cotton candy or tie-dying (today), why this event can happen and why me and other people in the LGBT community can be who we are today.”
Others held up signs that echoed the event’s origins as a protest. “Stop killing trans women,” read a sign carried by Rune Davino. “Remember our roots; there are no queer-friendly cops,” read a sign held by Amy Savino. “Queer liberation, not rainbow capitalism,” read Madeline White’s sign.
Liz Kirshner and Ellen Hart were offering “free mom hugs” to anyone who asked.
“We’re a group of affirming moms — [and] dads, cousins, uncles ... who want to spread love to everyone,” Hart said.
Kirshner said the group’s national organization was started by Sarah Cunningham, an Oklahoma woman raised in a conservative religious community, whose son came out to her at the age of 20. Cunningham later began offering to serve as a stand-in mom at the weddings of LGBT+ people whose parents had rejected them.
“We’re a group of affirming parents for the LGBT community,” Hart said.
Adult organizer Christine O’Leary, whose marriage to her wife was officiated by Marconi, said another gay pride event for adults will be held on July 11 at Lounsbury House.
“I saw lots of my friends who are some of the uber-power gays here,” O’Leary said. “...We have more together — we must be better to each other than to anyone else.”